HC: Adarsh plea transfer automatic with SC direction

Bombay High Court on Thursday observed that if there is a Supreme Court direction to transfer all environmental-legal disputes to the National Green Tribunal, the Adarsh Housing Society petition challenging an order to demolish the building would automatically transfer to the NGT.

In February, Adarsh society had moved the HC challenging an order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) directing the demolition of the 31-storey structure within three months. In April last year, the court stayed the order observing it would be a "drastic" step.

The housing society now contends that as two benches of the NGT have now been set up, their petition should be heard by the tribunal. Adarsh Society counsel Janak Dwarkadas had earlier argued that when the plea was filed, the tribunal was not functioning.

Responding to the petition seeking transfer to NGT, a division bench of Justice D D Sinha and Justice K K Tated said, "If there is a direction from the apex court, the case would automatically stand transferred."

The judges, however, said they would hear the stand of the Union government on the issue. The case will now be heard on December 18.

In the previous hearing on December 7, Additional Solicitor General Kevic Setalvad, representing the Ministry of Defence, had opposed Adarsh society's petition. Setalvad had said they should file a fresh plea before the NGT. He also told the court that the MoD intends to file a suit on the issue, challenging the finding of the state government-appointed Adarsh Commission that rejected the Defence claim on the land where the building stands.

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